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Goodby Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square

“You know the name. You know the number.”
Timothy Dalton resigned as James Bond in April 1994, and with Pierce Brosnan finally available to take the role he was announced as the new 007 at a press conference held on June 8, 1994 at the Regent Hotel, Marylebone Road, London. It would be another six months before shooting began on the seventeenth film in the official series. With Pinewood unavailable, the EON Productions converted the old Rolls-Royce factory at Leavesden Aerodrome into a working studio, and the facility (later re-branded Leavesden Studios) became a major film-making centre, and was the home to all ten films in the Harry Potter series in the ensuing decade.

GoldenEye teaser poster

Since the release of Licence To Kill in 1989 world politics had changed dramatically. GoldenEye was the first James Bond film to be produced since the fall of the Berlin Wall, collapse of the Soviet Union, and the end of the Cold War. The film used these events as the background to its story, and with ‘M’ now recast as a woman in the shape of Judi Dench, the character could openly remark that she thought Bond was a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur” and a “relic of the Cold War”. Although the James Bond films had still been shown on British television and more widely available on home video, it had been six years since Licence To Kill had been seen in cinemas. An early test screening of GoldenEye took place under strict security at the ODEON Wimbledon on Wednesday July 19, 1995 where the film was shown to officials of the UK and US distributors, and invited members of the public.

The incomplete ‘first cut’ was met with a favourable reaction by the 600 audience members, with many response cards comparing Pierce Brosnan with Sean Connery. EON Productions, and their new UK distributor United International Pictures, pulled out all the stops with an unprecedented advertising campaign reminding audiences that although the world has changed in the six-years since the last James Bond film was released, a new 007 was about to make his debut. The marketplace was flooded with special trailers, teaser posters and TV advertising. “You know the name. You know the number” played on audience familiarity with the character, but the new campaign also carried the tag-line “No Limits. No Fears. No Substitutes.” as if to cast aside memories of the action heroes who had taken Bond's place in the years the character was absent from the screen. Like Roger Moore before him, Pierce Brosnan appeared in early teaser trailers, and broke the fourth wall by directly addressing the audience with the words “You were expecting someone else?”.

GoldenEye premiered on Monday November 13, 1995 at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and went on general release in the USA four days later. Pierce Brosnan attended along with co-stars Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Joe Don Baker, Alan Cumming and Desmond Llewelyn who remained the only on-screen link to the earlier films in the series, playing gadget-master ‘Q’ for the 15th time.

GoldenEye premiere New York Radio City Music Hall 1995

ABOVE: (left) Radio City Music Hall, New York Monday November 13, 1995 -  GoldenEye became the first James Bond film since A View To A Kill a decade earlier not to have its world premiere in London. (right) New James Bond Pierce Brosnan with Desmond Llewelyn who played gadget-master 'Q' for the fifteenth time in GoldenEye.

GoldenEye then had its Royal European Charity Premiere in London at the ODEON Leicester Square on Tuesday November 21, 1995, in the presence of Prince Charles. Pierce Brosnan once again attended, and before the screening took to the stage at the ODEON to introduce his co-stars who included Izabella Scorupco, Famke Janssen, Alan Cumming, Desmond Llewelyn, Gottfried John, Robbie Coltrane and title song performer Tina Turner. GoldenEye played for six weeks at the ODEON Leicester Square before being replaced by David Fincher's Se7en on Friday January 5, 1996.

GoldenEye Odeon Leicester Square

GoldenEye also opened at the ODEON Marble Arch on Friday November 24, 1995 and went on general release across London, and at cinemas throughout the country. GoldenEye set a new opening record at the ODEON Leicester Square, taking £306,000 in its first seven days. Pierce Brosnan's debut as 007 was also a huge international success, and at the time of its release became the most successful Bond film since Moonraker, taking inflation into account. With a massive opening at 2,667 cinemas in the USA GoldenEye more than made up for the box-office disappointment of Licence To Kill, becoming the sixth highest-grossing film of 1995. British cinemas also celebrated the highest-grossing weekend in box-office history, with a staggering £7.24- million taken between 5th and 7th January 1996. The UK then boasted 70 multiplex cinemas with around 650 screens, and GoldenEye contributed greatly to this success.

GoldenEye Royal European Charity Premiere Odeon Leicester Square

ABOVE: (top left) Press advertisement announcing the premiere of GoldenEye on Tuesday November 21, 1995 (right) The ODEON Leicester Square on GoldenEye premiere night. (bottom left) HRH Prince Charles is presented with a souvenir premiere brochure by Sean Brosnan [son of new James Bond Pierce Brosnan and  Cassandra Harris (1948-1991)], watched by his father and James Bond co-producer Michael G. Wilson.

“James Bond: Shaken, Not Stirred”
With GoldenEye still breaking box-office records in the West End, the first five James Bond films starring Sean Connery were presented in a special season sponsored by Martini at the National Film Theatre on London's South Bank. Brand new 35mm prints of the five films were each screened twice over the first three weeks of 1996. The season entitled ‘James Bond: Shaken, Not Stirred’ kicked off with Dr. No at 6.10pm in NFT1 on Monday January 1, 1996, and From Russia With Love showing at the same time the next day. Goldfinger screened at 6.00pm on Thursday January 4, 1996, followed by a second showing of From Russia With Love on Friday 5th at 8.45pm. Saturday January 6, 1996 saw a triple-bill of Dr. No at 4.00pm, followed by Thunderball at 6.10pm, and You Only Live Twice at 8.45pm.

James Bond: Shaken and Stirred National Film Theatre 1996

Thunderball then had its second showing at 8.30pm on Friday January 12, 1996, followed by a repeat showing of Goldfinger on Saturday 13th at 8.45pm. The season concluded with a final screening of You Only Live Twice at 6.20pm on Wednesday January 17, 1996. In the programme notes Dick Fiddy reminded viewers under the age of forty that the chances were they had never seen many of these James Bond films properly, as the prints in circulation previously were in a sorry state. Their visual impact had been diminished by peak-time holiday slot scheduling on television by ITV, who frequently cut them for a family audience. Although the entire James Bond series (excluding GoldenEye) had recently been remastered and released on VHS video (and were also available in special collector's widescreen editions for the first time), nothing could compare to seeing them projected as brand new 35mm prints in a cinema environment. For Londoner's and those fans willing to travel, this was a rare chance to see the 1960s films in pristine condition on the big screen!

GoldenEye press advertisement

“No Limits. No Fears. No Substitutes.”
Following its six-week engagement at the ODEON Leicester Square, GoldenEye then transferred to the ODEON West End (formerly the Leicester Square theatre) for a further two weeks commencing Friday January 5, 1996. The seven-week run at the ODEON Marble Arch ended on Thursday January 11, 1996. After the ODEON West End, GoldenEye then opened at the Empire 2 in Leicester Square on Friday January 19, 1996, where it played for one-week before transferring to the smaller 80-seat Empire 3 for a further two weeks from Friday January 26th. As part of its West End engagement GoldenEye also played at the 7-screen multiplex MGM Trocadero Cinema on Great Windmill Street, which had opened on November 1, 1991. GoldenEye played for four-weeks from Friday January 19, 1996; also opening at the ODEON Haymarket (still a single screen cinema) on the same day, and again playing for four-weeks. On Friday January 26, 1996 GoldenEye opened at the Plaza cinema on Lower Regent Street, playing for another eight weeks. One week at Plaza 1; four weeks at Plaza 2, and the last three weeks a Plaza 4 from Friday March 1, 1996. On Friday February 16, 1996 GoldenEye made a return visit to Leicester Square, this time playing for 13-weeks at the ODEON Mezzanine. Opened in 1990 the five-screen cinema was built in the exit alley adjoining the ODEON Leicester Square, and GoldenEye played there for twelve weeks in the 60-seat screen 4, transferring to the 50-seat screen 2 for its final week. On Friday May 24, 1996 GoldenEye was then revived at the Prince Charles cinema in Leicester Place with selected screenings over a three-week period. The independently owned venue eventually found its niche as a repertory cinema, playing recent hit films, revivals, foreign language and cult favourites as part of its varied programming. The Prince Charles cinema has been the home to the London revival of all James Bond films in more recent years with late-night and festival screenings.

“Everything or Nothing”
James Bond producer Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli passed away on June 26, 1996 at his home in Beverley Hills, California. One of the pallbearers at his funeral on 7th July was Timothy Dalton, who had remained friendly with the family following his departure from the Bond series in 1994. On Sunday November 17, 1996 a special memorial tribute was held appropriately at the ODEON Leicester Square in London. Hundreds of colleagues and Bond alumni joined in to pay tribute including actors Desmond Llewelyn, Jane Seymour, Jill St. John and Lois Maxwell; directors Guy Hamilton, John Glen and Lewis Gilbert; associate producer Tom Pevsner, and composer John Barry. Former Bonds Sean Connery and George Lazenby paid their respects via video, but Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan attended in person to share their memories and pay tribute to the man who changed their lives.

Beginning with the release of Pierce Brosnan's second James Bond film all posters and main titles would bear the credit “Albert R. Broccoli's EON Productions present...” as a lasting tribute to the man who (with Harry Saltzman) created the most successful franchise in cinema history.

Three Bonds - Timothy Dalton, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan at the Cubby Broccoli tribute Odeon Leicester Square 1996

ABOVE: TRIPLE-O-SEVEN Former James Bonds Timothy Dalton and Roger Moore appear with the current 007 at the ‘Cubby’ Broccoli memorial tribute held at the ODEON Leicester Square on Sunday November 17, 1996.

“Brand New Bonds”
Exactly one year after the presentation of the first five James Bond films at the National Film Theatre, a second season was programmed, this time adding brand new prints of On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and Live And Let Die (1973). The season entitled ‘Brand New Bonds’ was respectfully dedicated to the memory of Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli - the man who (along with co-producer Harry Saltzman) brought Bond to the big screen. The huge audience response to the 1996 season prompted the NFT to show the first five Sean Connery films again starting on Wednesday January 1, 1997 with a triple-bill of Dr. No at 4.10pm, followed by From Russia With Love at 6.20pm, and concluding with Goldfinger at 8.45pm. Thunderball was shown at 6.10pm on Thursday January 2nd; and You Only Live Twice at 6.20pm on Saturday 3rd, with all screenings once again taking place in the 450-seat NFT1.

Brand New Bonds - National Film Theatre 1997

The brand new 35mm print of On Her Majesty's Secret Service had its first screening at 8.20pm on Monday January 6, 1997, with Diamonds Are Forever at 8.40pm on Tuesday 7th. On Thursday January 9, 1997 the NFT programmed On Her Majesty's Secret Service at 6.00pm followed by Live And Let Die at 8.40pm, effectively recreating the double-bill last seen in UK cinemas in 1974/75. A second screening of Diamonds Are Forever took place in NFT1 at 6.20pm on Friday January 10th, with a repeat showing of Live And Let Die concluding the season at 4.10pm on Saturday January 11, 1997.

Brand New Bonds - National Film Theatre 1997 listing


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